Whenever people ask us how they can pray for us, I always say, "Please pray for our language learning." More than anything else, this is the key to being able to start on translating the Bible and to building good relationships with our neighbors in the Russell Islands. Aaron and I use "The Language Learner's Proficiency Scale" (a modified ACTFL - taken from Terry Marshall's "The Whole World Guide to Language Learning") to self-evaluate. Currently, I'm a Novice-Mid, but I'm hoping to be a Novice-High by Christmas. So, here's what I can do:
-I can respond to simple commands such as "stand up" and "come here."
-I can greet people and take my leave correctly.
-I can ask basic questions, using who, what, when and where.
-I can make simple statements and commands such as "it's hot" and "turn on the light"
-I can thank people and make simple requests.
-I can use at least fifty words in apropriate contexts.
-I can sing one verse of a fold song or popular sing-along tune.
-I can perform at least one task at the novice-high level.
The scale also says:
-Can express very simple needs in polite language. Uses mostly memorized words and phrases. Can say short phrases if given time to think about what she/wants to say.
-Speaks in a heavy accent with many erros and confuses sounds that are similar.
-Speech is difficult to understand, even to teachers used to working with language students.
And here's where I hope to be by Christmas, by God's grace:
-I understand and can make simple statements about family, age, address, weather, time, and daily activites.
-I understand some words when the context helps explain them, e.g., in a cafe, the marketplace.
-My vocabulary includes names of basic concepts: days, months, numbers 1-100, articles of clothing, body parts, family relationships.
-I can use a least one hundred nouns and verbs in appropriate contexts. I am beginning to know what's expected of me in simple social situations.
-I can perform at least two tasks at the intermediate-low level.
-Can ask questions and make simple statements based on memorized sentences. Understands conversation fragments and simple commands. Can deal with simple topics of daily need. Speaks mostly in short, direct sentences, but can say some longer phrases and sentences if given time to think about them first.
-Still makes frequent errors in pronunciation and word use. Frequently asks speaker to slow down or repeat. Communicates with coworkers but has difficulty with others.
-Behaves considerately in dealing with host country nationals. Understands some nonverbal cues.
Finding time to try and learn the language continues to be a real struggle for me. If I can carve out some time between school and supper preparation, I tend to be exhausted and "brain-dead". How I appreciate the prayers of friends and family around the world!